Don’t be jealous, but Andrew Allen’s just got back from a week sailing Turkey’s Turquoise Coast with Busabout. If the idea of sailing effortlessly over warm, clear waters while enjoying delicious Turkish cuisine doesn’t appeal, look away now…
This is what dawn looks like from a traditional Turkish gulet somewhere on the Turquoise Coast.
An hour after taking this photo, I can no longer ignore the sun shining on my cheek so I pack up my bedding and return it to my cabin below deck. I slept in my swimming trunks, so I don’t even need to change before I dive off the boat into the clear waters of Tarzan Bay. Before leaping in, I notice tiny silver fish darting around, some as long and thin as swimming magic wands.
After a week afloat on Busabout’s Sail Turkey trip, I’m adamant that there’s no better way to start the day than a morning swim in the ocean.
By the time I get out of the water, our cook is setting up breakfast. I can’t quite get accustomed to having tomato and cucumber for breakfast, but fresh watermelon, on the other hand, is a joy.
After breakfast, the captain starts the engines, and we’re off towards Butterfly Valley. Gulet is by far the most comfortable mode of transport I’ve ever discovered. The upper deck, where we choose to sleep, has a dozen or so mattresses. When the cover is rolled back it makes a perfect spot for sunbathing. The lower deck provides welcome shade in the afternoon. We eat our meals around a large table here. There are thirteen guests and three crew members on-board the gulet, but you wouldn’t know it. While we travel around the coast, everyone is spread out, relaxing with a book, a game of cards or a conversation with someone they haven’t got to know yet. Murat, a crewmember, tries his luck at fishing off the side of the boat with a roll of twine.
Soon we arrive at Butterfly Valley. This gorgeous cove is only accessible by boat because of the sheer cliffs surrounding it – which also happen to make it rather photogenic.
Unfortunately we were out of season (butterflies are best spotted April – June), but the spot is picture perfect year-round. A few members of our group are dropped ashore, where they climb for around 20 minutes to a small waterfall. But I can’t bring myself to leave the warm water. I swim for what feels like hours, pinching myself every time I glance at the beautiful valley.
Not far from Butterfly Valley is our next stop: Ölüdeniz, also known as the Blue Lagoon. Here we enjoy lunch, which is a delicious aubergine and pepper curry served with seasoned pasta and purple yoghurt, coloured with red cabbage.
After lunch, the brave among us jump off a nearby cliff, while the rest watch from the water. Before long, a woman comes pulls her boat up next to ours, offering to make fresh crepes right there! Nutella and banana is irresistible. They’re twice the price of what you’d find ashore, but still only €3.
After dessert, we begin the short trip to our final stop of the day: St Nicholas Island. Archaeologists believe that this little island was the final resting place of St Nick himself in 343 AD, so I like to think of it as Christmas Island. The walk to the summit only takes about 15 minutes, and on the way up I’m amazed to be able to clamber all over the Byzantine ruins.
The captain has carefully timed our ascent to ensure we get a great view of sunset over the bay. It’s magical.
It’s a warm night, so most of us choose to swim back from the island to our gulet, rather than take the little motor boat. As we get closer we begin to smell something delicious, and spot our chef barbequing chicken wings on a small cooker at the bow of the boat. He serves them with stuffed peppers and spicy potatoes. We all have seconds.
I’ve devoured so much that I can barely look at the platters of fresh melon that arrive soon after, instead dedicating myself to an evening of card tournaments with my new friends aboard the boat.
As the evening progresses, we gradually disappear to the mattresses on the upper deck. As I look up at the stars, I’m tempted to contemplate the meaning of life. But before I can, I’ve drifted off, gently rocked by the Mediterranean.
Stay tuned for Andrew’s paragliding adventure over the Blue Lagoon.
Inspired to discover the Turquoise Coast for yourself? Fly to Dalaman from £278 or call our consultants on 0208 045 4186 to ask about Busabout’s Sail Turkey trips.